Contacts to our digital service from young people in the south west were the catalyst for our decision to explore piloting a service in the region back in 2018; and following research led by Birmingham University’s Dr Jason Schaub, we launched a pilot based in Bristol.

We developed a model for the pilot which comprised continued scoping of need, development work and partnership making, alongside the delivery of a service to young people locally. This learning based model of working helped us create a service that focused on specific local need rather than replicating our work elsewhere. 

In a pilot year partly beset by the pandemic, Mijanou and Elyssa continued to develop this vital new service, the outcome of which convinced us of the need for akt to continue our work in the south west post-pilot. Local young people have played a vital role in this journey, not just advising us on shaping the service, but also as online outreach volunteers. Despite their own challenges during the pandemic, they enabled our team to reach out to young people who faced isolation and loneliness across the south west – from the tip of Wales right down to Portsmouth, including many in rural areas.  

I am so proud of our south west team today: Anne-Marie and Elyssa, who will be joined soon by another colleague. The south west work (excluding online support through our digital service) already comprises 11% of our case work nationally, and this is rising. We have also identified a significant local need amongst trans and non-binary young people, comprising 53% of the young people we help currently in the region.

akt is committed to ensuring that we reach many more of the 24% of young people facing homelessness who identify as LGBTQ+; and during September our trustees and staff team will be exploring ways to expand our incredibly successful digital service, which supports young people nationally, and also where we need to go next with our physical services to ensure safe homes and better futures for LGBTQ+ young people.

None of this vital expansion of our services could happen without your support. Thank you for enabling us to reach out and support young people wherever they need us.

Keep safe.

Tim Sigsworth
Chief Executive
@TimSigsworth

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